Assisted Dispersal and Retention of Lichen-dominated Biocrust Material for Arctic Restoration

Sarah Ficko
Diane Haughland
Anne Naeth
Resource Date:

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Arctic biocrust loss due to industrial activity can have long-lasting ecological impacts, highlighting the importance of restoring disturbed tundra environments. This research focused on biocrust establishment on substrates of by-product materials from diamond mining (crushed rock, lake sediment, processed kimberlite), inoculant dispersal (dry placement, slurry), habitat amelioration (erosion control blanket, tundra soil, woody debris), and containment (jute mat), over three field seasons at Diavik Diamond Mine, Inc., Northwest Territories. Three years after inoculation, lichens were detected on 100% of inoculated plots and 70% of uninoculated plots (likely blown in from inoculated plots). Uninoculated plots had significantly lower species richness and vegetation cover than inoculated plots. Biocrust retention was highest on plots with erosion control blanket, containment, woody debris, and crushed rock; larger scale application of these treatments should be assessed in future. Plots with processed kimberlite, no habitat amelioration or tundra soil, and no containment had the lowest cover, species richness, and individual species abundance in year 3. This research suggests that active restoration techniques using lichen biocrust inoculation and habitat amelioration is required for successful biocrust revegetation outcomes on substrates of mining by-products in the arctic.